Developer: Games Cafe Inc.
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Sally’s Spa HD is Games Cafe’s port of the largely successful Sally’s Spa for iPhone and iPod Touch. This time management based beauty spa sim is among the most addicting titles available in the App Store. The shift to the larger iPad promises bonus frills born out of the massive screen real estate, but is that enough to make this upgrade worthwhile?

For those uninitiated in the wonders of managing a spa, Sally’s Spa is all about simple tasks and constant upgrades. Players earn money by guiding customers to different stations throughout their spa. Make customers happy and they’ll tip well. Use that money to purchase upgrades and new staff members in order to better serve your patrons. The only inherent flaw of this game’s design is that it becomes exceptionally repetitive. For some, though, that may be exactly what you’re looking for. Be warned that upgrading equipment doesn’t always provide Sally with the type of relief that you’re looking for. The game constantly comes up with new activities for Sally to do, so even a fully upgraded spa is still difficult to manage. One of the design principles for these types of titles is that the work should get easier as you earn more money. With Sally’s Spa, however, the difficulty always stays about the same.

Games Cafe did well when it came to upping the ante for the high-res visuals. The title is cartoony and based entirely on static 2D models. The iPad remake harnessed the charm of the original and reproduced it on a larger scale. In fact, this game is simply a larger and sharper version of the original when it comes to visuals. Most players will find them easy enough to digest over the course of the micro-management extravaganza, but don’t expect to ever be completely wowed by the graphics within. Games Cafe did make them nice, sharp and large, but this game has never been about aesthetically stunning players.

The victory for this iPad remake comes, largely, from two locations. First of all, the extra screen space has made this title a joy. Players will be able to precisely tap ever item of they’re spa throughout play. During moments of extreme business, users will be able to take advantage of the big stage and more accurately and fluidly dictate Sally’s next move. Games Cafe really took advantage of the bigger screen size.

There’s also a new multiplayer mode. Find a friend dedicated enough, and you two can tackle “Best Friends Mode” quickly. Two characters managing one spa is very fun. The screen is split in two so that players can lay their iPad down and play the same spa while facing each other. During crazy moments, players will be fast to lose track of exactly what they’re doing. However, consider that a compliment. The joy of Best Friends Mode comes from working together to conquer the zaniest spa happenings. That’s done through lots of yelling and finger pointing (at least when my wife and I play).

It’s worth noting that version 1.0 has a few bugs when it comes to multitasking and finger accuracy. When switching away from the app for a while (say, 30 minutes), the game would freeze entirely or the sound would cut out completely. Each issue was only resolved with a restart of the application. Where accuracy is concerned, some of the more precise mini games seem to be a bit off. The stone placement and the eyebrow plucking are both tough to get used to. In the stone game, for instance, players have to grab a stone and place it within the boundaries of a matching pattern. Unfortunately, when the stone is lined up perfectly by the player, it doesn’t drop in place. Players have to compensate for the inaccurate game object and place the stone off center deliberately in order to pass.

If you played the original, Sally’s Spa HD is a great remake for the larger iPad. Games Cafe delivers a new mode for kicks and does well with the spare space the platform has to offer. For folks new to the spa business, the iPad version of this title marks an exceptional spot to dive in from.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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